Case Study: American AgCredit

Growing Financial Institution Takes Advantage of EVault’s Easy Scalability to Protect Expanding Customer Data

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Founded in 1916, American AgCredit specializes in providing financial services to agriculture and rural customers throughout California, Nevada, Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as to capital markets customers in more than 30 states across the nation. They serve customers through 30 branch offices located throughout the Western and Midwestern states, with corporate headquarters based in Santa Rosa, California.

Financial services provided by American AgCredit include:

  • Production and mortgage financing
  • Short and long-term loans
  • Real estate loans
  • Equipment and vehicle leasing
  • Lines of credit Protecting customer financial data is integral part of maintaining a successful business and developing trusted long-term relationships. An important component to managing this financial data is to ensure that the systems and software used for data backup and recovery are robust, easily managed, secure, and cost efficient.

Goals

Regulation stemming from Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) played a huge factor in American AgCredit migrating to a disk-based backup solution in 2001. However as the Association and its customer base continued to expand, so did the financial data it was responsible for protecting and retaining. The association needed to modify its existing backup solution to:

  • Scale as data increased
  • Store data offsite securely
  • Centralize management of IT infrastructure
  • Recover data faster
  • Get better support in disaster recovery situations

Challenges

Prior to using EVault technology from EVault, A Seagate Company, American AgCredit used multiple solutions to back up servers onto tape drives, then, transport the tapes to an offsite disaster recovery location. With servers dispersed throughout the state, transporting tapes to a disaster recovery location was time consuming and logistically difficult for the IT staff.

Backup data could be three or more days out of sync with the system data so if recovery became necessary, the most recent data may be lost. Recovery was also a slow process that could require many days to complete. Daily backup management required IT staff to be in multiple locations, and added staff made the processes quite costly.

Solutions

In 2001, when American AgCredit first evaluated disk-to-disk backup solutions, it had a relatively small amount of servers and data to protect – 14 servers and less than 140GB of data. While evaluating different solutions, the IT staff was pleased to find that EVault SaaS Cloud-based backup and recovery met all of their selection criteria.

Backup jobs could be managed with a single interface – EVault Central Control. All of the backups were automated, deduped, compressed and encrypted, and sent over the Internet to a vault at a secured EVault location, eliminating the need to transport tapes. Recoveries were quicker as well. There was no longer a need to drive to the disaster recovery facility to identify, retrieve and mount the tapes to perform a restore. With just a few mouse clicks, files or entire servers could be restored in a matter of hours. It was faster, easier, and less expensive than the manual process they had been using.

As the company grew, scalability became another consideration. The Association’s data had grown to 50 servers and more than 1 terabyte of data. American AgCredit had centralized most of its IT operations to just a few facilities to further improve its operating efficiencies. After careful analysis of options, the IT team decided to purchase EVault Software, allowing them to manage the backup operations within their own locations. As the data needs grew, analysis showed that bringing the solution in-house offset the monthly fees.

The migration process was very easy since EVault already had the data; it was a simple matter of moving data from one location to another. The new solution included two vaults located in two geographically different locations. The data previously stored at the EVault data center was migrated to the company’s on premise vaults. All 50 servers have their backup jobs scheduled so they copy to both vaults, providing the redundancy needed to prevent business interruption. In addition, EVault System Restore (bare metal technology) protects each server, allowing a quick recovery of an unusable system after a failure.

Results

Disaster recovery planning has also been made simpler for American AgCredit since implementing EVault’s EVault Software. Simulating what might happen if a data loss occurs is a common practice in the financial services industry. At a recent data loss simulation test, five critical servers were taken offline and restored at their secondary data site. All five servers were restored and running at their secondary site within six hours.

“It was easy to inject new routes into our network to have branches access applications and data from the disaster recovery site. The secondary facility operates as if it is our primary data center. During the test period, our branches relied entirely on the alternate systems and restored data. It is impressive and I have complete confidence in the solution,” said Gabe Doherty, Network Engineer.

American AgCredit appreciates the simplicity of the EVault solution. If a disaster strikes, American AgCredit and its customers benefit from a faster return to operations. And getting back to business sooner is critical, as downtime means lost profit.

“I am particularly impressed and appreciative of the EVault technical staff that did the migration. They made sure everything worked seamlessly and didn’t leave until I understood the system and how to use it efficiently.” Doherty added. “The continuing support from EVault is exceptional.”